Spas have long been considered a haven where the very wealthy go to pamper themselves.
But since the economic downturn, they’ve morphed into something more — a place where overly stressed jitterbugs worried about job stability can go for a few moments of unadulterated relaxation.
That’s what Laurie Mancuso, owner of Bellus Tu Day Spa in Kings Mountain, said she has been seeing for months. Instead of more expensive treatments, folks are opting to fit on-the-go facials and quickie rubdowns into their schedules.
“People are so stressed out that they’re not sleeping, and they want to know what they can do without taking Tylenol PM,” said Mancuso, a former nurse and licensed aesthetician.
It’s a national trend. A recent article in The New York Times said that weekly traffic to the “stress-management” category of Spafinder.com has doubled since the summer.
“It’s not just a luxury anymore. It’s not just for rich people, it’s for everybody,” said Kevin Jones, a massage therapist at Bellus Tu. “More and more people are coming in and their biggest complaint is stress. But during a massage, they can lay there and relax for an hour while the stress of everyday life just melts away.”
The economy is a constant topic of conversation at Spa South Salon in Gastonia, owner Jack Ward said. Ward said that all of their spa services have done fairly well, even in this economy. He said that’s because people are using spas as an escape from all of the doom and gloom they’re hearing about.
“You can get a $25 manicure and have someone massage your arms much easier than you can more expensive services like new clothes and new cars, those things we used to do to reward ourselves,” Ward said.
While any spa treatment can be relaxing, Ward said, he recommends a massage to work out the tension in the neck, back and shoulders for a person under extreme stress. Mancuso said she always recommends regular facials, especially for women, who tend to show their stress in the form of acne and bags under their eyes.
And treatments go beyond the actual 30 to 60 minutes regular folks are spending at spas. Ward touted the longer-term benefits massage treatments can have in encouraging general relaxation.
Jones added that it’s important to educate clients on inexpensive things they can do at home to stay relaxed after their visit — sleeping with pillows under their knees to help alleviate lower back pain, performing quick stretches as they enter doorways, placing ice cold green tea bags or sliced cucumbers on their eyes and carrying simple tote bags instead of heavy, oversized purses.
“Most people can’t afford to come here every day,” Jones said.
Still, an occasional trip to the spa can be worth the therapeutic benefits of a treatment and the unbiased ear of a therapist, particularly during troubled times.